April 25, 2014
Huttonsville, West Virginia
Positive since 1991
My name is Randy Cooper. I’m incarcerated at Huttonsville Correctional Center of West Virginia. I’ve been living with AIDS since the ’90s. I contracted the virus because of a promiscuous lifestyle. I was diagnosed in Chicago at the age of 21. It was around the time when Magic Johnson had made his announcement. I’m now 44.
I remember all the ignorance, fear and peer pressure I’ve been through regarding HIV/AIDS. Being incarcerated in the South, I still face many challenges, stigma and discrimination. I was taking Crixivan but recently switched my medication to Kaletra. I suffer from high triglycerides, dizziness and a few other side effects.
I’m presently in a relationship with my wonderful HIV-negative friend Kim who has been behind me 100 percent. She supports the fight against AIDS and proudly wears the “Until There’s A Cure” bracelet.
Our dream is to reconnect and see each other. We are actually old friends from childhood and I think our story will help others because we know the challenges couples face when one of the individuals is HIV positive.
Kim was my first crush and Valentine’s Day sweetheart. She saved my Valentine’s Day card for over 38 years and contacted me after finding something I had posted on a website. We have a long distance relationship with 628 miles between us. We are hoping to be able to visit each other one day.
What three adjectives best describe you?
Funny, bright, ambitious
What is your greatest achievement?
My vocational skills. I am a certified technician and have an NCEER certificate.
What is your biggest regret?
What keeps you up at night?
Having a bad day
If you could change one thing about living with HIV, what would it be?
What is the best advice you ever received?
Don't ever give up hope.
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